Monday, 24 August 2015

Its speaning time again

Farmer had J from Dervaig coming to help in the fank today.  Really heavy rain woke us in the night, and early morning, which meant that the heat of the day was quite a surprise when we went outside.  There was a strong warm wind blowing all day which made me think of a Mediterranean mistral.

There is a Cheviot lamb sale in Oban on Tuesday and he is aiming to get a trailer load of wedders (male lambs) over on the 10.55am ferry, all being well.  Taking the lambs off their mothers is called 'speaning', and it is always noisy.

To start with, Farmer gathered the field in front of the house, and brought the ewes and lambs up through the triangle gate and across the track into the fank yard.

Then into a smaller pen.  Once the gates were closed and they realised they were not moving, a frantic searching started, as ewes tried to find their lambs and lambs tried to find their mothers.  Lots of noise of plaintive baaing, and a slow flow of entwining animals as they circle the pen, sniffing the face of each lamb or ewe as they passed, in the search for their mother or lamb. 

This year the effects of the new CAP reform will make a difference in our lamb selection for sale. Usually we keep enough ewe lambs (hoggs) for our own breeding purposes and sell the rest. However with the new CAP rules, initially based on our land classification (most of Treshnish is classed as rough!) we will be paid a premium on each ewe lamb we keep over the winter.

So this year, in the fank, Farmer is looking at the 'spare' ewe lambs (which in previous years we would have sold) and will be keeping enough to fulfil his subsidy requirements.  The number you can keep is based on how large your acreage, so there is a limit and for us it is about 150 I think. This measure is to try and cut out the 'slipper farmer', as they must be your own home bred lambs.  You cannot buy ewe lambs from elsewhere and claim on them.  This in turn affects whether or not he gets rid of some of the old (Cheviot) ewes as we do not want to end up with more sheep than we normally have on the farm.

The day continued to stay windy, balmy and bright - really wonderful to feel the heat we have missed out on this summer!  The temperature at 3.30 in the afternoon was 26C!

Lenticular clouds over Calgary headland.

And a soft sunset disappearing under the clouds on the horizon.

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